Franz Waxman

About Franz Waxman

As one of the most prolific film composers of the first half of the 20th century, Franz Waxman imported his modernist sensibility into some of the era’s greatest Hollywood melodramas. Born in 1906 to a Jewish family in what is now Poland, Waxman studied in Dresden and Berlin, working as a jazz pianist during the Weimar years. In the early ’30s, he made a name for himself as a composer and an orchestrator on movies by major directors like Fritz Lang and Josef von Sternberg. Like so many German auteurs, Waxman would flee persecution by the Nazis and begin a successful career in Los Angeles in the mid ’30s, with scores including The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940). The creative and commercial apex of his silver-screen career was his acclaimed 1950 score for Sunset Boulevard . Two years before his death, Waxman premiered his most impactful and personal concert work—the choral-orchestral piece The Song of Terezin (1965)—taking its text from poetry written by children in a concentration camp.

Königshütte, Upper Silesia, Germany
December 24, 1906
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